Jan 23

The Trees That Laughed Behind Her Back

She ran through the trees, swiping at them with her long fingernails. Underneath the pinkish shells there was a crust of dried blood and wood. She scratched the bark, she scratches the leaves, she scratched at the insects that crawled and swarmed on her face. They nag at her, laughing and buzzing. She ran faster, her limbs numb and exhausted.  She felt nothing but the terrible irritation of hundreds of tiny legs on her face. She screamed at the forest. She knew the trees are watching her, she knew that they hold secret conferences behind her back, snickering and whispering, pointing their long leafy fingers at the girl who had only just run past. She knew that, so she dug her nails into their thick, rough skin. She shouted insults at their faces, as they stretch their roots and boughs out to trip and smack her. They laughed as she fell, again and again. The breeze ruffled her hair, playing with her until she batted it away. The breeze laughed at her, the trees laughed at her, the grass and the earth beneath it laughed at her. It rang in her ears as the insects obscuring her features began to chortle and snicker. The noise grew and grew. She tore at it, swiping at the forest around her. The figments of bark laughed still, though they were beneath her fingernails. She desperately ran her hands over her face, trying to rid herself of the legs, the hundreds upon hundreds of legs, the thoraxes that piled on top of one another. She screamed, she shouted but none could hear, or care. She picked herself up, heaving and gagging, though there was no food in her stomach to lose. She ran forward, she knew not where,  but blinded by the insects and the tears beginning to well up behind her irises, she continued. At last, the trees gave way to a field of flowers, kind flowers, that offered her rest and a pillow on which to rest her head. They smiled at her, stroked her ankles, and helped her to sink onto the grass. She fell to a fitful sleep, deserted by happy dreams. The insects crawled down her neck and into her clothes, biting her soft flesh until the sweet songs of the flowers lulled them, too, to sleep. As the pastel painting of dawn caressed the sweet sky with pink, a boy walked by. He stopped, and stared for a moment at a path worn into the nearby cornfield. He gently pushed the stalks aside to find a girl asleep. Her clothes were ragged, her face clean, save the scratches that had clearly been inflicted by her own nails. He scanned the road and the fields around. He did not know where she had come from, or who she was. The stark landscape, devoid of trees for several miles, offered no solution. Nothing but cornfields as far as an eye could see.